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4.4 out of 5 stars66
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 9 May 2010
An under-rated masterpiece.
This novel has everything...excellent strongly-written characters, a thrilling unusual plot, the New York in the sixties vibe.
It is one of those books that is very rewarding to re-read because you begin to understand what was really going on when, for example, Hutch loses a glove, a seemingly trivial loss but with very evil undertones as it turns out. There are lots of little incidents that you will want to re-examine, knowing what you know at the end of the story.
The plot unfolds at a satisfying pace, the characters develop with the events.
A flawless, highly entertaining story.
I always intended to write to Ira Levin to express my admiration for the novel, but sadly I left it too late.
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on 21 September 2006
Having seen the movie, and enjoyed it, I gave the book a go. Despite being written 40 years ago now, it still has the feel of a contemporary book. Because of the claustrophic setting of the building, in which a lot of the action takes place,the real world doesn't impinge much.

Ira Levin writes in a nice, easy to read style, which makes you want to read more and more every time you finish a chapter. I won't give much away about the plot, just to say that the year 1966, in which it is set, is very relevant, and the book will make you wonder if the mundane things around you are quite as mundane as they seem!!

Well written, great storyline, good characters (although I found Rosemary to be a little too dumb at times), and a book that will make you think a little. Worth picking up.
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on 26 September 2011
I have never read Ira Levin, nor been a fan of the "horror" genre, but hearing a review of this book on the radio, I was sufficiently interested to buy a copy. It is a sensational read - horrifying, tense and sinister but written in such a style that you simply cannot put it down. All the horror is implied with no graphic references but shocking to the point that I gasped out loud several times to my husband's irritation. I passed it on to him and he echoes my vie. Since then we have gone on to read 3 other Levin novels, each of which has been more captivating than the previous. He is a fantastic author and if you have never read one of his books, this is a cracking one as a starter for 10.
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I don't think I need to summarise the plot, the book was made into a very famous film (which I haven't seen - I know, I should, it's a classic, etc), but suffice it to say that this is the story of the pregnancy leading up to the birth of the son of Satan.

The story is mostly absorbed in the details of day-to-day life for a stay at home wife of a working actor, a woman so dull that all she dreams of is setting up a family of her own and getting the perfect kitchen. No, this isn't the Stepford Wives, that's another of Levin's books. But I didn't care for Rosemary's character (or lack of), she's always whining to her husband to do things for her, she doesn't do anything herself, and then bumbles about passively until the last 40 or so pages when she finally wakes up.

Though a quick read, the novel isn't very interesting. It has some good moments such as the impregnation (rape?) scene of a drugged Rosemary who hallucinates a demonic being, and Levin convincingly creates an atmosphere of claustrophobic paranoia as Rosemary finally puts two and two together. But mostly nothing happens until the third act so there's a lot of nothing while we wait for Levin to decide to bring all the strands together.

I thought it was interesting that Levin was going for an ambiguous "is-she-crazy-or-is-this-real?" type conclusion a la "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson, until I realised that all of the clues leading up to the reveal at the end would have to be explained away if that was what he was going for. It was only going to end one way, which was cool, it's good to see a writer, especially in a horror novel, go for the solid ending (even if he wrote an unintentionally hilarious line in the last few pages: Rosemary is talking herself out of killing the devil baby "Even if he was half-Satan, wasn't he half-her as well?").

And I credit Levin with, as Chuck Palahniuk points out in his introduction, bringing horror from the distant castle/country and into Western suburbia. But that said, the book is too slow, too shallow and too uninteresting a story (until the final third act, and even then - meh) to warrant it as a modern classic, and Rosemary is too bland a heroine to root for or care about strongly. "Rosemary's Baby" is an interesting concept, not as well realised as I'd hoped, and certainly lacking in real horror, but a decent quick read.
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on 23 March 2012
I have often seen Rosemary's Baby mentioned as a comparison in reviews so I was curious to read this classic book.

Published and set in the mid sixties, fashionable young couple Rosemary and actor husband Guy are delighted to be moving into the exclusive Victorian New York apartment block, the Bramford. A wise and trusted friend warns them that the Bramford has somewhat of a sinister past - child murders, satanic rituals, a dead baby found in the cellar and a high occurrence of suicides. The couple brush this off but within weeks, they return to their new home to find that somebody has thrown themselves to their death from an apartment window for what seems like no apparent reason. Plus their eccentric, elderly neighbours are taking a rather unhealthy and suffocating interest in them and Guy once wary, now seems to be embracing their friendship. And Rosemary wants to start a family at this place......I will say no more.

Creepy, chilling with lots of suspense, the pages practically turn themselves although I was disappointed with the ending which I thought came to an abrupt halt whilst the story was still flowing. Most definitely worth reviving though.
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VINE VOICEon 24 October 2011
This was for most of its duration an excellent, tense thriller, with a growing sense of creepy horror. I had never seen the famous film adaptation, so didn't know if the seemingly obvious solution would turn out to be true, or if Rosemary would be revealed to be insane. However, I found the last sixth to be rather less good and was unsure if this was supposed to be reality or a dream. The very ending was very abrupt.
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on 8 August 2011
What can you say about this book that hasn't been said elsewhere? Fabulous read. I think it's more disturbing as a book than it is as a film. I love the fact that the story takes place in a regular setting rather than "elsewhere" - there's something about the action taking place in the home, which should be a place of safety, that makes it more chilling. I love this book - I always have.

I've been waiting for Ira Levin to appear on the Kindle e-book list for a while now. Rosemary's Baby - A Kiss Before Dying - The Boys from Brazil and The Stepford Wives all at 99p at the moment. Can't beat that for a bargain and luckily they appeared on the e-book list right before my summer holiday. :0)
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on 21 August 2010
This must be one of the cleverest horror stories that has ever been written. Quietly chilling and extremely effective.
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on 27 August 2011
I bought this book even though I had previously seen the film and consequently knew the story. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it under these circumstances but wanted to give it a go because I've liked other books by Ira Levin. My worries were unfounded because I was gripped from the very first page. The book is an utterly compelling story of betrayal and paranoia and I could not put it down. This was probably the best 99p I have ever spent!
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on 4 October 2013
I'm currently on an Ira Levin mission and this was my second after A Kiss Before Dying, The Stepford Wives is next. The writing style is unmistakable, with good character development and long descriptive passages, which are on the verge of being too long and slowing down the plot. The storyline is ingenious in the extreme, take care not to miss the tiniest, apparently inconsequential event, because it will come back later in the story with huge significance. As the plot develops the creepiness rises, but I use that term deliberately in preference to horror; it is a horror story, but it's not horrific. Like other reviews, I found the ending slightly unexpected, but I won't say disappointing, the tension in the last third of the book keeps on rising. This is not a long book, but much as I liked it, long enough. I certainly enjoyed it and definitely recommend it, but don't quite rate is as one of my all time favourites.
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